Connect with us


Army Chief dismisses criticism, insists on need for public cooperation to overcome corona epidemic



… latest cluster exceeds 1800; its eruption still a mystery

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Army Chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva strongly defended the armed forces role in the overall government effort to bring the fresh corona eruption under control.

Those who complained of the way the war-winning military responded to the growing crisis conveniently ignored the enormity of the task and the challenges faced by them.

Acknowledging there could be some shortcomings in the wake of what the media called the ‘Brandix eruption,’ Lt. Gen. Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), assured that the military and the police were doing everything possible to bring the situation under control. The Army Chief said so in response to The Island queries regarding public criticism directed at the military for being insensitive to those compelled to undergo quarantine at state-run facilities.

The wartime GoC of the celebrated 58 Division said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa tasked the military with the daunting task early this year when corona epidemic erupted. “In spite of difficulties, the armed forces and the police assisted the health administration to bring the first corona wave under control. Now, we are battling obviously a far bigger second eruption,” the head of the national covid task force said.

The Army Chief said that those who found fault with government efforts expressed views on the social media. Lt. Gen. Silva recalled how various interested parties criticized the war effort until the very end.

“They questioned our strength and capacity to bring the war to a successful conclusion. Similarly, we are being criticized by a few but overall the vast majority of people have faith in the military,” Lt. Gen. Silva said.

A section of the civil society, too, is critical of the way, particularly garment workers were treated.

Responding to another query, the CDS said that in spite of the Brandix eruption, the government apparatus managed to sustain the covid treatment project. Since the first detection made by the Gampaha Hospital in the new eruption of the highly contagious disease , the health authorities had recorded nearly 1,800 cases, mostly Brandix workers attached to its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility.

Lt. Gen. Silva said that most of the affected had been in the Gampaha district at the time of the onset of the second wave and the situation could have been much better tackled if the health administration, the military and police received the anticipated cooperation. Unfortunately, those vulnerable and stricken by corona habitually tried to deny having had contacts with other people, hesitated to divulge where they visited et al, thereby had made things difficult for the health staff and the armed forces.

Lt. Gen. Silva said that the military health staff had been fully utilized to run facilities where approximately 10,000 were accommodated so far in military run quarantine centres.

Lt. Gen. Silva explained efforts made by the Navy to thwart illegal boat movements across the Palk Straits as part of the overall measures in place to meet the covid-19 threat.

Asked whether the government intended to expand the curfew now imposed in 14 police areas in Gampaha Division (Yakkala, Pallewela, Weliweriya, Weeragula, Minuwangoda, Veyangoda, Pugoda, Nittambuwa, Mirigama, Malwathuhiripitiya, Dompe, Kiridiwela, Ganemulla and Gampaha), two police areas in Kelaniya Division (Kandana and Ja-ela) and three in Negombo Division (Divulapitiya, Seeduwa and Negombo), the Army Chief said that a lot would depend on cooperation extended by the public. “Let me tell you, there are isolated cases in many districts outside Gampaha, Kelaniya and Negombo police divisions. If people really cooperated with the government, the situation can be gradually brought under control,” the Army Commander said. But, if the situation deteriorated for want of public cooperation, the police would have no other option but to expand curfew, he said.

Commenting on successful battle against the first wave and the ongoing second, Lt. Gen. Silva said that the second was a quite a challenge as it threatened a major revenue source. Pointing out that the declaration of curfew in the Katunayake police area on Thursday (15) at 5 am, Sri Lanka’s top military officer explained determined efforts made to sustain operations at export-oriented factories.

Lt. Gen. Silva acknowledged that the ongoing operation was far bigger than the one carried out early this year.

Contrary to earlier reports and indications the 39-year-old Brandix worker tested positive on Oct 2 at the Gampaha hospital was certainly not the first to be stricken with the deadly virus at the facility. Authorities were yet to establish the cause of the Brandix eruption, the Army Chief said.

“Inquiries are continuing,” Lt. Gen. Silva said, adding that there was no better apparatus than the armed forces and police to work with health administration to overcome the danger to the entire country.


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

Continue Reading


SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

Continue Reading


Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

Continue Reading